Ford Patents In-Bed Magnets To Keep Your Pickup's Cargo In Place

Ideally it would replace the need for tie-downs and could be turned on and off selectively in areas of the bed.

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Image for article titled Ford Patents In-Bed Magnets To Keep Your Pickup's Cargo In Place
Image: Ford

We’re fans of the Maverick’s “Flexbed” — basically Ford’s name for the bed on its smallest pickup that contains a lot of handy features, like slots for wood planks to divide cargo, threaded holes for DIY rails, convenient 12-volt power point access and tie downs that double as bottle openers. If the company’s recent patent filings are any indication, future Ford truck beds may gain yet more nifty hidden capabilities, thanks to magnets.

The automaker was awarded a patent last month for a “truck bed with selectively actuated magnetic floor segments,” Muscle Cars & Trucks unearthed and reported on Monday. Basically, it would take the form of under-bed magnets that could be turned on and off at will, magnetizing certain sections of the surface to keep metal objects stationary and mitigating the need for physical tie-downs.

Image for article titled Ford Patents In-Bed Magnets To Keep Your Pickup's Cargo In Place
Screenshot: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The patent describes a system of two sets of magnets, each with their own north and south poles. The first set is stationary while the second set is movable and can change position relative to the first set to activate or release magnetic force depending on how their poles are aligned.

In one application, this would all be controlled via servos and belts managed through the vehicle’s infotainment display or a smartphone app. In a cheaper implementation — maybe for a truck like the Maverick rather than the F-150 — the second set of magnets could be manipulated with bedside handles. The patent also makes mention of single electromagnets, rather than pairs of permanent ones, to achieve the same effect.

Magnets may also be used to keep bed partitions in place, and Muscle Cars & Trucks even shared an image from another patent which portrays a system that magnetizes the ceiling of a bed cap or SUV to suspend items from above — which admittedly seems a little more dicey.

It’s very clever stuff if it works as intended, but of course magnets present their own problems, as anyone who’s seen the most recent Fast & Furious movie can attest. In more realistic terms, MC&T makes mention of the need for careful shielding to protect the vehicle’s electrical systems.


It’s also worth noting that companies are awarded patents all the time — often for technology that’s far more pipe-dreamy than this — most of which never come to fruition, or require many years of development before they do. This is all to say that there’s no guarantee Ford pulls this off, or even tries to. And considering this would only work on certain types of cargo, or require magnetic crates and boxes for everything else, I have a feeling your average, enterprising Maverick or Ranger owner would rather default to inexpensive, old-fashioned straps and beams. I could definitely see this sort of thing on a loaded King Ranch or Lightning, though.